We spent most of the day moving and sorting and organizing and getting rid of ancillary items as we could. But it was also Memorial Day, so we spent time talking with each other and the kids about what it all means.
Eric is a really effective teacher. I knew that this day was for honoring our fallen servicemen heroes, but in the past it has felt like a celebratory day to kick off summer and have a BBQ.
PTSD is a deep and painful wound. It’s something that can overwhelm a person’s life to the point of not being able to live a life like before. One of Eric’s closest friends, Chief Walker AKA Uncle Bob, suffered tremendously from PTSD and took his life. Another of Eric’s friends, Chief Blake AKA TJ, has been running 100 miles to raise funds to stop soldier suicide. (Here is a link to the Facebook fundraiser if you’d like to follow or contribute https://www.facebook.com/donate/671218343655864/ ) In a report from September 2019, at least 60,000 veterans died by suicide from 2008 to 2017. The veteran suicide rate is 1.5 times that of a civilian’s. Why is that? Of course, we all have our ideas, but here is mine from the little I know.
Our military is put through harsh conditions, survival challenges, and literal emotional and physical torture, and this is only during training. They become sharpened tools and experts at their niche throughout their careers. They move up the ladder and into life-threatening positions. They are taught to be honorable, humble, work together, and fight for what makes our country worth it all. They build tight-knit friendships, some of whom they lose in battle, and they are taught to cope all while moving foward and continue fighting.
Once they leave active duty, there is a 5-day course that is aimed to assimilate them into civilian life. Many of these men and women have spent their entire adulthood up until that point serving. To me, this does not seem like a proportionate amount of time to figure it all out and become even half as successful as they were during their service. Nonetheless, it is a good start. If a veteran is lucky, they will find some jobs that are aimed toward veterans. These heroes are now going through life without the intense sense of purpose they once had, and have to start at the bottom of the ladder all over again. Their military friends disperse back to their home towns and go on with their lives. It is easy for them to feel forgotten and useless. Add in some boredom, some PTSD, some financial hardships, and a complete change in lifestyle and the new world these men and women face can be quite depressing.
This is such a common issue that the VA has set up classes during their service, and support after veterans serve. One of Eric’s friends finished a 100-mile run to help the cause and sent him this care package that meant the world to Eric.
Please show your love to our heroes. Let them know they matter during AND after they dedicate their life to serving our country. Demonstrate gratitude for their sacrifices and embrace them as our teammates so we can collectively make the world a better place than we found it.